Promoting ATV safety amongst West Fraser employees is an annual duty for Bill Bjornson.
For the last 20 years, Bjornson, a contractor for West Fraser, has taught the Canadian Safety Council ATV and UTV Safety Class. Held in the spring for summer students and new employees, it runs participants through their paces to reduce accidents on the job. Bjornson said he trains between 30 to 40 people every year.
“Everybody is on them a lot to do silviculture work, tree planting and grass seeding,” Bjornson said. “We’re having way too many accidents and environmental problems with people doing crazy things so the big thing is for these guys to understand where they can go and what they can do on ATVs.”
In addition to basic driver training and safety, Bjornson always teaches his students about where they can and can’t ride their ATVs. For example, they’re fine to use their ATVs on forest service roads but not on roads maintained by the Ministry of Highways.
Bjornson has his students practice loading and unloading their vehicles extensively. He said 80 percent of ATV accidents tend to happen while someone is unloading or loading their ATV, so practice makes perfect.
One of Bjornson’s students this year is Dylan Strelaeff, back for his second summer of working for West Fraser. Strelaeff said the training usually takes around two weeks and is an important part of keeping everyone safe on the job.
“It’s a good time. When I’m working in the bush I usually work in planning so I’m laying out cut blocks, looking at streams, looking for migratory books and laying out wildlife tree patches,” Strelaeff said. “If it’s a hard area to get to and it will be too long of a walk, we usually take out an ATV.”